The Solomon Islands Government is preparing to ban Facebook to protect “national unity” and crack down on cyberbullying.
Facebook may be experiencing record growth, thanks to the pandemic, but the Solomon Islands government is not a fan. The government has criticized the social media platform for its role in cyberbullying and online defamation.
“Cyberbullying on Facebook is widespread, people have been defamed by users who use fake names, and people’s reputations that have been built up over the years [are destroyed] in a matter of minutes,” Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare said, according to ABC News.
The proposed ban is being called a temporary one while the government drafts laws to legislate online behavior. Temporary or not, the move has drawn intense criticism from the government’s opponents, as well as from Solomon Islanders abroad.
“My mum was very sick, and she went downhill very quickly, within like 10 days, and then we lost her,” Nurse Margaret Tadokata told ABC News. “My last goodbyes with my mum were on a video call on Facebook, on Messenger … Without it, I wouldn’t have seen her or heard her for the last time.”
“Even though I’ve been in Australia for more than 20 years, my connection and my culture and family are very important to me, and Facebook has made that easy for me,” continued Ms Tadokata.
The backlash the Solomon Islands Government is experiencing illustrates the challenges governments around the world face in their efforts to regulate Facebook. On the one hand, there is no denying the damage the social media platform has done to the fabric of human society and societal norms. On the other hand, the platform has become a nearly irreplaceable method of communication for many across the globe.